Code named Windows Blue has now officially been declared as Windows 8.1 by Microsoft. It is almost ready and under testing phase right now before its final release. Windows 8.1 Preview is officially available for consumers to download and test it to make it sure that final release is bugs free. Currently, it is not possible to declare exact date of release of the finalized form of Windows 8.1 but it is expected in late 2013.
Microsoft has learnt from its past not so good experience regarding Windows 8 and is now focusing more on fulfilling demands of its operating system users. Company is striving to include many new features to the OS to make it the most demanded operating system in the world next to Windows XP and Windows 7. The new features which are now officially the part of Windows 8.1 and few of the Windows 8 features which are now excluded from Windows 8.1 has been discussed below.
Included New Features:
1- Windows 8.1 is designed to support certain new technologies. These include NFC Printing, Wi-Fi Direct Printing, 3D Printing, device encryption for all editions of Windows 8, auto triggered VPN, tethering of mobile broadband, Miracast and DirectX 11.2.
2- Microsoft claims that its new OS can fit on almost any screen, from 7 inch tablet to 27 inch or bigger computer screen. This is a good feature and equally beneficial for any kind of user having different size machine. To fulfill the requirements of fitting OS properly on screen, Microsoft has brought certain new changes especially to Modern UI and overall to whole Windows 8.1 operating system .
3- The most demanded Start button has now returned to action. Microsoft has included a start button on taskbar just like it is on Windows 7 and previous versions of Windows but with a new design. Windows can now also boot directly to desktop screen bypassing the Metro start screen. The context menu of start button allows shutting down, hibernating or restarting the computer directly.
4- Start screen is the same tiled one like Windows 8 but it has got certain improvements and new features. Start screen can be customized with far more colours on Windows 8.1. Tiles can be swiped horizontally on screen with the animation of backgrounds. Custom wallpapers or even desktop background can be used for the start screen. But in that case, background wallpaper remains static and does not animate with scrolling tiles. Start screen tiles can be locked in one place to prevent them from accidental shifting. Live tiles can now be replaced with “All Apps” view.
5- Lock screen can turn into a photo gallery picking random pictures to display automatically. It is possible to unlock the camera or answer Skype call directly without fiddling with password to unlock and get inside the user account.
6- Two biggest interface changes have been brought to Windows 8.1 which include new smart search technology and the way OS handles multiple modern apps windows on screen. Search pane has been redesigned making it possible to search in full screen mode or inside a small pane. Integrated Bing is now able to display search results combining the search results from the files stored on PC and files stored on Skydrive and from around the web.
7- New snap view makes it possible to open multiple Windows store applications and resize them into different sizes on screen in case of multitasking. If someone is using a PC with multiple screens, he can start and put the windows of multiple applications side by side on all of them as long as the available space on screens is not fully occupied by the running applications.
8- “Computer” button which we are used to see in Windows 8 and previous versions of Windows is now renamed as “This PC” in Windows 8.1 along with the integration of SkyDrive inside the File Explorer. SkyDrive which is installed in new OS as the backup storage and extending internal storage is able to synchronize files automatically.
9- The trigger which shows the charms bar when you bring the mouse pointer to the top right corner and another one at top left corner of screen which shows thumbnails of the next applications running in the background can now be turned off.
10- Camera app designed for tablets and notebooks has a new feature included in it which is known as Photosynth Panoramas. Tap it and start moving your tablet around. Application will stitch the panoramic images together into a scene and can cover up to 360 degrees.
11- Integrated Xbox is much improved and so is the Mail. There are new applications for food and fitness and a modern version of office is also on its way to meet Windows 8.1. Many other pre integrated applications have also gone through the process of over hauling. The uninstall command allows Windows store applications to get uninstalled from multiple linked computers.
12- Windows 8.1 carries Internet Explorer 11 which is engineered for speed and compatibility with websites. In comparison between Internet Explorer 10 and Internet Explorer 11, the newer one proves to be an improved and websites friendly web browser. One can open up to 100 tabs at once without much slowing down the computer. A second or third copy of web browser can also be opened and inside each of them, further 100 tabs can be opened.
1- Windows Experience Index which is the integral part of Windows Vista and onward releases of Windows has been deliberately removed from Windows 8.1. WEI gives a general idea about the performance capability of hardware installed inside the computer but Microsoft might considered it as useless feature and therefore, has thrown it out of latest OS.
2- Windows 8 introduced a sleek backup and restore solution as “File History”. It also included “Windows 7 File Recovery tools” imported from Windows 7. In Windows 8.1, those have been deprecated. However, overhauled File History tools still allow users to import backup images created with Windows 7.
3- The Messaging app which allowed users to chat on Windows Live Messenger and Facebook is no longer available. Microsoft has merged messaging facility into Skype. Microsoft also claims that a complete Facebook application is on its way to join Windows Store. Moreover, the calendar app no longer connects to Google Calendar. Instead, it connects to Outlook.com and Microsoft Exchange.
About Windows 8, An Honest Opinion